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Unhappy returns

Welcome to The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.

Unhappy returns

Wolves and Bolton returned to the Championship with a jolt on Saturday, with two of the three clubs relegated from the Premier League suffered sobering opening-day defeats. Wolves were beaten by Luciano Becchio's goal for Leeds at Elland Road, while Owen Coyle was an unwelcome guest as Bolton went down 2-0 to his former club Burnley.

Wolves manager Stale Solbakken is desperate to end a winless run in league matches that stretches back to February, when they last tasted victory with a 2-1 Premier League victory at QPR. "You can say that you can work hard, blah, blah, blah - but you have to win that first game," he said. "Today was a fair result. There were not many chances in the game. Leeds protected their penalty area well when they went in front. I have no complaints."

Coyle, meanwhile, is determined to put things right as Bolton prepare for successive home matches against Derby and Nottingham Forest. "I accept total responsibility as the manager, and we want to start putting the points on the board," he said. "We had almost 3,500 fans supporting us today (Saturday). We need to give them something to shout about, and we didn't."

Zola's Watford set the tone

Gianfranco Zola has clearly built a team in his image at Watford. The Hornets started the new Championship season - and a new era under the ownership of the Pozzo family - with a thrilling 3-2 success against Crystal Palace.

Zola's men scored twice in the dying minutes to seal victory, with substitute Matej Vydra netting a fine winner to earn the acclaim of his manager. "Matej is a player who can change games, therefore I think it was the right moment to bring him on," Zola said of the young Czech striker, who is on loan from Udinese. "He is a player with quality in his bag and he can make a good impression on this team - we will give him time to adapt."

Still Kean on Rhodes

Blackburn manager Steve Kean says the club are still trying hard to secure a deal for Huddersfield striker Jordan Rhodes. Kean's team drew 1-1 with Ipswich on the opening day, with a late own goal from Jason Lowe cancelling out Colin Kazim-Richards' opener for Rovers.

Despite persistent chants of "Kean out" from the travelling Blackburn fans, the manager was satisfied with his team's performance and thrilled to see new signing Kazim-Richards get off the mark with a close-range header. "We feel we've got a really good, competitive squad and that we're good enough to bounce back at the first attempt," he said. "This is the first point on the board at a difficult venue, so I've got to be pleased."

South Coast spoils

Crisis club Portsmouth had already exceeded the expectations of many by making it to the first day of the League One season, so to come within 12 minutes of victory was no small achievement. Pompey's rogue band of loan signings and players on one-month contracts went ahead through Izale McLeod's goal on 18 minutes, but they were denied all three points by a header from Lee Barnard late on.

"I need three more players and you won't see the best of us until October or November," Pompey manager Michael Appleton said. "We are facing an ongoing saga. I just hope for the fans something gets sorted out and we get new owners which will give everyone a lift."

Pompey are currently awaiting a finalised bid from the Portsmouth Supporters Trust (PST). There are issues to be ironed out with player contracts and the Football League will need to approve a PST business plan before anything moves forward, so it's far from a certainty the deal will happen. The Trawler will keep you posted.

Di Canio corner

Paolo Di Canio blanked the press after watching his Swindon team labour to a disappointing 0-0 draw at Hartlepool. Di Canio was said to be enraged by his team's lacklustre opening day showing, which came just four days after the Robins upset Brighton in the Capital One Cup.

Swindon captain Alan McCormack said Di Canio was less than pleased with his team's performance on Saturday. "We just got a good telling-off in the dressing room and I think we deserve it," he said after the game. "It was a terrible day and we can't accept that. Sometimes it happens to one person and sometimes it happens to two people, but it was every one of us out there today."

Wood screamer

York City's return to the Football League ended in a comprehensive 3-1 home defeat to Wycombe in a game that will be remembered for Sam Wood's superb strike for the visitors.

Wood's 35-yard volley put the game beyond York and is an early contender for goal of the season. "He doesn't score too many and he won't score too many like that," Wycombe manager Gary Waddock said. "It was a wonderful strike and it capped off a wonderful performance by him and the team."


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